Thursday, September 18, 2008

Go Dog Go!

When my daughter was younger, one of her favorite books was Dr. Seuss' Go Dog Go.

My favorite part was always at the end. After all their "going," the destination of the dogs is finally revealed -- It's a Big Dog Party! She always thought that was great.

Well, as it turns out, we have our own "Big Dog Party" here in Watkinsville called Grace's Birthday Party. It's a unique canine celebration that celebrates the life of Grace Shearon, who resided with the Shearons at our very own Ashford Manor. Last year more than 250 canines and their human friends found their way to Ashford Manor for the event. It benefits the UGA Vet School.

Press release follows.

WATKINSVILLE, Ga., June 17, 2008 – Watkinsville has again gone to the dogs as more than 600 canines and their two-legged companions will dress in their finest Mardi Gras costumes and gather at Ashford Manor Bed & Breakfast on Sunday, Sept. 21, to celebrate the tenth annual Grace’s Birthday Party. This Mardi Gras themed masquerade will raise funds to support the Grace Memorial Foundation at the University of Georgia’s Veterinary Hospital as well as a host of other local animal advocacy organizations. The party will last from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and will be held rain or shine.

Guests will enjoy a fun

-filled day of doggie games, costumes, contests, refreshments and more – along with some fun stuff for humans too. A highlight of the party will be the prominent display of artist Peter Loose’s portrait of “Mardi Gras Grace.” All dogs attend free, while adult humans pay $15 and children pay $5.

Jim Shearon, a proprietor of Ashford Manor, began the tradition almost a decade ago as a birthday celebration for his beloved Airedale Grace. Just months before her planned second annual birthday party, Grace was diagnosed with cancer and sadly did not live to see the occasion. Rather than mourn his companion’s death, Shearon decided to celebrate her life by continuing to host the party and fundraiser to honor Grace and collect money for animals in need. The party’s success continues to grow each year, attracting hundreds of pups and their pals.

“It is always sad to lose a companion, but this party is a fun way to celebrate Grace’s life while raising money for several great canine causes,” said Shearon. “People and their pups come from all over to this event, and even though they may not know each other, they all have something in common – they’re dog people.”

Last year, approximately 275 canines joined more than 350 of their human companions to raise more than $17,000 for local charities including the Oconee Regional Humane Society, Oconee Animal Control, Athens Area Council on Aging Home Delivered Meals Program, Southeastern Guidedog Institute and University of Georgia Small Animal Teaching Hospital G.R.A.C.E. Fund.

Beyond the fun and games, there is also a silent auction featuring valuable items, services and vacations donated by local individuals and businesses. “The support we’ve received from local pet lovers has been tremendous,” said Shearon. “Businesses and individuals alike are eager to help in any way possible, and we are certainly grateful for their contributions.”

For more information on Grace’s Birthday Party and the Grace Memorial Foundation, visit them online at

About the Grace Memorial Foundation

The Grace Memorial Foundation supports the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine Small Animal Teaching Hospital’s G.R.A.C.E. Fund by providing assistance to clients who have demonstrated financial need. Funds are available to assist with medical procedures for dogs suffering from illness or injury, or who are in need of routine care. The Grace Memorial Foundation also provides assistance to the elderly and those recovering from illness by providing food and routine care for their companion dogs.


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